Too bad they don’t have any tactical nukes…

Most Californians may be unaware of it, but the state Department of Fish and Game has been waging an ever-escalating war against the predatory northern pike ever since the fish turned up in Plumas County about eight years ago.

So far, the pike are winning – despite the department’s best efforts to rid placid Lake Davis of the non-native species by hitting it with everything from nets to poison to electrical charges.

In doing so, the department has spent more than $10 million, eradicated virtually every other living thing in the reservoir and generally annoyed the nearby populace, since much of their drinking water comes from Lake Davis and neighboring wells.

According to Associated Press, the latest Department of Fish and Game gambit involves exploding detonation cord in selected portions of the lake to blast the pernicious pike back to the last Thursday.

Why do I get the feeling that this isn’t going to work?

Let’s face it – if nets, electrocution and an estimated 50,000 pounds of poison didn’t do the trick, it’s not too likely that a little detonation cord will eliminate the pesky pike and their threat to native fish species.

And when the pike manage to re-establish themselves in, say, three weeks, somebody in Sacramento will have yet another innovative solution – an artillery barrage, perhaps, or a colorful cavalry charge.

(Thank God the Department of Defense hasn’t seen fit to allow Fish and Game access to F-16s or tactical nuclear weapons, although I don’t suppose submarine warfare is completely out of the question at this point…)

Short of draining Lake Davis, though, there is a win-win solution for all concerned that’ll benefit everyone but the northern pike.

Since the state of California has already spent several million dollars turning Lake Davis into an ichthyological war zone, it only stands to reason that it can spend a million or so more to promote a “Free Pike-A-Rama Fishing Month at Lake Davis!”

Although nobody knows exactly how the northern pike got into Lake Davis, it stands to reason that the fish was probably introduced by an enthusiastic angler who wanted a little more challenge than provided by the lake’s lethargic trout.

Therefore, the solution can be made out of the problem. I mean, if you’re not part of the problem, you’re part of the solution unless you were part of the problem in the first place and you can still contribute to the solution…you know?

Perhaps I should rephrase this:

Attract about 50,000 hardcore anglers to the shores of Lake Davis with promises of unlimited fishing and the pike problem will disappear in the blink of an eye.

Make sure there’s plenty of Budweiser and beef jerky on hand and you’ll have droves of fun-loving fisherfolk flying in for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to battle the cunning and tenacious northern pike.

As soon as the official Lake Davis Pike-A-Thon motto – “No Limit? No Problem!” – hits the airwaves, Plumas County will be raking in the tourist dollars selling everything from fluorescent fishing lures to stylish Petey the Pike T-shirts.

Then the only problem will be finding a way to remove several thousand dangerously hungover, never-say-die anglers from the shores of Lake Davis once all the pike have been rounded up…

Originally published April 28, 2002

Big summertime fun is on its way, amigos

As summer begins, newspapers across the nation invariably pause to remind their accident-prone readers about recurring summertime hazards – sunburn, fireworks and shark-infested waters, among others.

You know how it goes: “Summer’s here and so are the sharks. Remember to put on plenty of sun block before you venture out to the beach. Sharks hate sun block…”

Unfortunately, there’s another particularly nasty variety of Northern California menace that you seldom read about but which can to prove to be just as dangerous as swarming yellow jackets or errant bottle rockets.

Yes, I’m talking about Big Drunk Crazy Guys on Their Way to The Lake.

These 275-pounders emerge from their winter lairs in late May, immediately consume a 12-pack of beer and then, toting an ice chest on each shoulder, hippity-hop out to their three-ton SUVs.

Know them. Fear them. But don’t try to stop them. They’re on their way to “The Lake” and it doesn’t particularly matter which lake as long as it’s wet and will accommodate their fluorescent lime green ski boats.

(Yes, they’re always fluorescent lime green, usually with a name like “Jugs” painted on the stern. That’s just the way it is…)

Big Drunk Crazy Guys on Their Way to The Lake are usually observed in one of three places:

* Driving on your side of the road, listing slightly to port.

* At The Lake.

* Up to their wheel wells in The Lake.

Admittedly, a Big Drunk Crazy Guy en route to his favorite body of water may present a significant threat to other summertime motorists in his immediate vicinity. But things can only get worse once our hardy traveler finally arrives at his destination. That’s where he’s instantly transformed into a Big Drunk Crazy Guy at The Lake.

Enjoy the fishing, campers…

Once at the lake, our hero may metamorphose into a variety of other unique but equally dire summertime hazards.

He may become the Big Drunk Crazy Guy with a Barbecue (“Hey, buddy, toss that gas can over here, willya?”).

Or he may become the Big Drunk Crazy Guy with a Chain Saw (“Gotta find some kindling – wonder if anybody’s using that old dock?”).

Then we have the ubiquitous Big Drunk Crazy Guy with a Flare Pistol.

Trouble usually starts when our Big Drunk Crazy Guy at The Lake begins rummaging through the storage compartment of his ski boat in search of a bottle opener. Instead, he stumbles across the 12-gauge flare pistol that some safety-minded boating companion left behind three or four summers ago.


At best, a nearby tent trailer will be burned to the ground in approximately six minutes. At worst, Plumas County will be burned to the ground in roughly six minutes.

Perhaps the most terrifying of these personalities, though, is the Big Drunk Crazy Guy at The Lake with a Watermelon.

Give one of these bigger-than-life beer fanciers a watermelon and he’s as likely to lob it through your cabin window as he is to drop it on your dachshund or heave it at a fellow Big Drunk Crazy Guy in a passing ski boat – usually prompting return fire from the latter’s flare pistol.

And you were worried about sunburn…

Originally published June 17, 2001